DIY Tree Trimming – Is It Really Worth the Risk?

Tree trimming should leave healthy and beautiful trees when done safely and correctly.  A certified arborist is experienced and knows when a tree needs to be trimmed and pruned and why.  Years of experience should leave a professional with the proper skills and useful tree trimming techniques.  It is highly advisable to avoid going through the trouble and putting yourself in danger if you aren’t sure of what you are doing.  Although the concept might seem easy and doable, you just cut some branches off right? Simple. The truth is that attempting to perform do it yourself tree trimming can be hazardous, hard and costly in the long-run.  Especially if the falling debris crushes something valuable. Here are some reasons why you should consider leaving tree service maintenance like trimming and pruning to a team of professionals before attempting to perform it yourself.

DIY Tree Trimming is a Hazardous Job

Let’s simply begin with looking at some of the basic required tools: handsaws, chainsaws, climbing equipment and rope, ladders.  Combine this with dangerous heights and tiresome hard labor, lifting and moving heavy branches, and one can easily see why tree trimming has one of the highest rates of injury.  The Logging industry is listed as one of the most dangerous jobs by the US Census Bureau. This is the stat for the professionals in the industry, now imagine how much more dangerous it will be for a home or property owner that is attempting this with no professional equipment.

One way that an untrained DIY tree trimmer can experience an accident is by having lack of said experience.  An untrained eye may not be able to identify a healthy branch from a rotten branch.  A wrong step on a rotting branch that can break off beneath you can lead to major damage to you or your property below.  This can also cause more damage to the tree, which will escalate the need for proper tree service maintenance.

Now let’s add the use of sharp tools at heights in an isolated situation, since there is no proper table or workbench to lay them down on since you are on a tree. A property owner may try to trim a tree with a chainsaw while on a ladder or while standing on an actual branch.  This requires extreme caution, safety equipment and special coordination that may not be readily available to most home and property owners.  A professional arborist technician does access to the proper tools and safety equipment that is required to trim trees correctly and safely.  The proper safety precautions involve the use of safety harnesses, ladders, safety ropes or even sometimes bucket trucks if needed.

Proper Trimming Can Prevent Future Danger and Damage

Believe it or not trees, just like any other living entity, need constant maintenance for proper health, and this includes trimming and cutting some branches.  Ones that have not been maintained properly with proper pruning can often result in it being weak or hazardous.  This is why sometimes during strong wind storms, branches or whole trees can come toppling down.

One example of improper trimming that can cause damage is by “topping” it.  Topping a tree is when the tree’s crown is trimmed significantly mainly with the intent that by doing this, it will cause more blooming.  On the contrary, the tree is left looking a off and deformed and also weak.  Trees that have been topped are shown to be more likely to start rotting and developing diseases which leave it as a huge danger to its surroundings.

The Most Common Mistakes Made During At Home Tree Trimming

Property owners might cut through a branch thinking they are fixing one problem but can potentially cause a second one by seeing it fall onto a valuable piece of property, deck, car, house, or even see it break the concrete below.  The reason why you should consider a professional handle this is to prevent property damage.  An arborist has the experience and knowledge to anticipate and plan for this, carrying out the tree trimming job knowing how to plan in order to perform the job correctly and safely.  Those that still will attempt to DIY tree trimming please consider the following common mistakes:

Sharp Tools – Maybe you have old handsaws, axe, or even a chainsaw that you have used once or twice in the last year, but have not recently had them maintained or sharpened.  Using dull tools is a mistake because they can make the healing process for your tree longer if a tree branch is not cleanly cut.  Also dull tools make your job a lot harder and longer. It would be best practice to have your tools sharpened or possibly invest in new ones.  Although if you don’t plan to continually maintain and trim then the investment might not make economical sense and your money could be better spent in having a professional trim the trees for you.

Not Cleaning Tools – Consider this, you wouldn’t want a dentist to perform their duties on you with unsanitized tools, right? It might sound a bit exaggerated but if we think about it, a tree is alive.  So by performing and removing a branch can be seen as removing a tooth in your mouth. If you are trimming a branch with dirty tools, you can possibly transfer diseases from previous diseased trees and spread them onto a healthy tree.

Topping or Lopping a Tree – an amateur may believe that trimming branches anywhere simply for aesthetics or to get some desired effect is a common mistake about tree care.  Common mistakes such as trimming your tree by topping or lopping is not the best practice. Lopping is the act of cutting a branch in certain areas other than a node or union branch.  This leads to ugly growing patterns, and also leaves the new branch structure in a weak state.  This also creates more health issues for the tree as it leaves it more exposed to diseases and infections, making it weaker and leaving it to become a danger for you and your family.

Lion Tailing – This happens when all the lower branches are removed making the tree top heavy, this leaves it more exposed to branch failure.  This practice is also known as Over Lifting.

Excessive Trimming – Never remove more than 25% of a trees leaf-bearing crown, this varies also with the age of a tree.  As an older more mature tree should have an even smaller percentage of its crown removed. This is because it takes older trees longer to heal after a trimming than a “younger” one.

Cutting Flush – Cutting a branch flush with the trunk or main node branch is a common mistake because it can leave room for potentially a number of problems.  These problems can include bark growth to become uneven, leave it exposed to diseases and also exposing to pests and fungi.

Wrapping Up DIY Tree Trimming Mistakes

Although you might have the best intentions in the world and might be wanting to take charge and handle the tree trimming on your own.  You might not fully understand the proper way or technique to not compromise your tree’s health and can potentially create future hazards. This company that performs tree trimming in Portland Oregon advises that you contact a professional in order to prevent any future dangers and to get the job done properly the first time.

  1 comment for “DIY Tree Trimming – Is It Really Worth the Risk?

  1. July 22, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    I didn’t even know what lion tailing is until I read this! I didn’t realize that removing the lower branches could cause branch failure. One of the trees in my yard really needs some help since we haven’t maintained it at all in the last few years. We’ll probably have to get the help of a professional so that we can avoid some of these pitfalls!

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